Friday, 19 August 2016

The longest twenty miles

Today it took seven hours to go twenty miles. Even the slowest marathon runner would have outpaced us. 

As we left our mooring in Kattensingel in Gouda, a heron was scouting for breakfast just feet away. (see picture)  He nabbed a small fish effortlessly. We had already put away porridge.

To cut a long story short,  it was a day full of frustrations. It took an hour to get through the two tiny bridges and a lock only (a few hundred yards apart) which formed the entrance to Kattensingel. Slow wasn't the word.

As the waterway became more tidal and wider, (and more industrial) lo and behold we had tide against us. We had almost forgotten what that feels like...  Eventually it was 3.5 knots against us,  plus a stiff headwind too. Waves and all. It rained.

There was a large lifting bridge at one point where we had read it would open at 10 to and 20 past the hour. It was open at ten to. We rushed toward it. A loudspeaker boomed ' English sailboat go behind the other sailboats'. They were lined up at a waiting pontoon  waiting for 20 past. But how were  we to know? The Dutch expect you to know.

Later we arrived at a major bridge that we read would open at 1415. We were 35 mins early and looked for a place to tie up and wait. There was none! It was ridiculous. A total of nine yachts had been hanging around with engines on, idling in stiff tide and wind, waiting for the damn bridge. Sirena didn't find it easy to hold station thanks to her long keel. At last we got through. 

Finally we approached our goal, Dordrecht. The spires of the city looked pretty as the rain began again. We entered a small bridge into a city centre marina, tied up in a tricky berth only to have the harbour master whistling at us telling us we couldn't stay there as it was reserved for a long barge. Earlier we had been told we couldn't reserve a place! So we had to turn around in a small space using bow thruster and go into another berth, scraping on a pole as we arrived.

Both of us were hot, cross and frustrated. That wore off when we went for a short walk around the streets of the harbour area. It is on a bigger scale than Gouda and more graceful and imposing. However we fear the 67 bells of the Grote Kerk's magnificent carillion might just keep us awake tonight. 

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